Before Download Festival all kicked off, we headed down to an old Biscuit Factory in South London to watch a bunch of experimental hardcore bands in a handmade wooden box. This is what we do for fun around here. Hugh Platt took care of the words; Shaziya Niamh was in charge of the photos.
Six things we learned from watching experimental hardcore in an old Biscuit Factory in South London:
1) Given that the venue for tonight is a hand-built wooden block in the corner of a re-possessed Biscuit Factory, it’s aptly that tonight’s hosts are the This Is DIY collective. With a capacity of just 80, and sound-proofed with dozens of old mattresses sandwiched between the wooden walls (yes, really), the confined space that the all-dayer takes place in is claustrophobic, dark, and swelteringly hot – all of which makes it the perfect place to watch experimental hardcore bands lose their fucking minds. It’s almost like the place is having an Indian sweatbox effect on everyone inside it – which makes it all the more of a shame that the temporary venue is going to be torn down once the V22 Summer Club event comes to an end at the start of August. BOOO.
2) The DIY nature of tonight t’s also why Tom Lacey (yes, as in: the former frontman of The Ghost Of A Thousand) is here, with dozens of posters pinned up on the side of the temporary venue. Tom was here representing Poster Roast, the collective of gig poster artists responsible for more amazing gig posters than…well…than we know how to adequately describe without linking to their incredible website. It just so happens that Tom designed the poster to the first ever Thrash Hits Presents…. night back in January 2011, which his band co-incidentally headlined. We should probably do another Thrash Hits Presents… night, shouldn’t we? Both the first and second kicked ass. And hey! One of the bands from our first Thrash Hits Presents…is playing here in the Biscuit Factory tonight. Coincidence? Or just the fact that some of the people promoting gigs in London these days have good taste?
Bastions @ London Bermondsey Biscuit Factory – 04 June 2012 c/o Shaziya Niamh
3) Once we stopped gawping at Poster Roast’s work, we squeezed into the venue to catch Shapes. The Birmingham trio specialise in harsh, abrupt noise, but do so with hidden iron rod of melody to give it backbone and structure. There’s a plosive quality to their music – and notice I said plosive, not explosive. In the combined space of tonight’s venue, the sound of Shapes physically bursts across your face via waves of damp – and slightly sweaty – air. It leaves the venue throbbing and feeling closer to some black-lit alien greenhouse than it does a small wooden box in South London.
4) The main reason we turned up today was because Bastions were playing, and we heard a rumour that some new, previously-unreleased material might be making it into their setlist. As you can see from the setlist below, they did not disappoint. As mad-keen as we were on…well…on pretty much every release they’ve put out to date, the new material is sounding both harder and more highly-strung than anything we’re used to from Bastions. This bodes well for the new recordings the band are embarking on with Jag Jago (hey, two former members of The Ghost Of A Thousand in one review! Nice) down in Brighton. We are very excited about the future of Bastions right now.
5) Bastions proved that even with a temporary bassist (Battle For Paris’ Phil King standing in for the recently-departed Gareth Davies), there are few – if any – “hardcore” bands (we phrase it thus because “hardcore” band seems to reductive and restrictive a term for the kind of band Bastions truly are, but right now we can’t think of a more suitable turn of phrase) capable of such intensity. It’s a word that’s lost some of its meaning and power through overuse, but the presence of the band’s frontman, Jamie Burne, makes us want to back away slowly. When he’s in full-flow during a Bastions show, we don’t know whether he’s about to swing for us, or break down and weep in the middle of the mosh pit. It is raw and unpredictable in a way that all those ker-razy “I’M MAD, I AM” frontmen in this world couldn’t replicate if you gave them an instructional video.
6) After that display (and that of Shapes too), we almost feel sorry for tonight’s headliners, One Unique Signal. Despite the presence of at least one magnificent moustache, a barefoot guitarist, and a pulsing, repeating motif of riffs that manages to sound hypnotic without becoming stoner-rock, we find our attention drifting. We wouldn’t be surprised if One Unique Signal had been described in the past as “crafting sonic landscapes” or somesuch, but all we can think of is that they’d be a lot more interesting landscapes if everyone stopped wandering about willy-nilly and brought out a roadmap.
Bastions @ London Bermondsey Biscuit Factory setlist
In The Shadow of a Mountain
If this has gotten you interested in checking out what else is going down at the Biscuit Factory as part of the V22 Summer Club series, go check out their website. If you want to know about the other events This Is DIY will be putting on as part of the series, check out this handy link here. Necro Deathmort are playing on July 21 – why don’t you come along to that? We’ll buy you a beer. Whatever you do, you better hurry up if you want to check out the awesome temporary venue in the Bermondsey Biscuit Factory – the Summer Club comes to an end on 03 August 2012, and after that, they’re tearing it down. BOOOOO.